Hansel and Gretel Gingerbread Cottage

Hansel and GretelWeek two of the Great British Bake Off was biscuit week, with showstoppers of free standing biscuit scenes. Before I even saw the show I knew I wanted to make a gingerbread house for the Great Bloggers Bake Off, it may not be as inventive as some of the bakers on the show but it is something my kids love. When making these before I’ve always used giant chocolate buttons for the roof tiles, this time I went a step further (imagining the look on Mary Berry’s face at the thought of bought chocolate buttons) and made tempered chocolate roof tiles in alternating milk and white chocolate. I also melted sugar to make the window panes. The chocolate coated beans were bought and I’m not sure if using a lollipop stick for the witch is strictly allowed but since I’m not really in the bake off tent I’m giving myself the benefit of the doubt!

To make the 3D trees I used a normal tree cutter then cut out sections from the middle to allow them to interlock. Hansel and Gretel are made wide enough to stand up using 2 biscuits attached back to back with royal icing. The witch has a lollipop stick pushed in immediately she comes out of the oven before the biscuit hardens, Her decoration is done using a technique called flooding where lines are piped around the shape and then the inner sections flooded with a slightly runnier icing. I used star biscuits to make the tree she is flying over and used a lolipop stick to put a hole in each as it came out of the oven, when decorated and stacked with royal icing to hold it together the tree forms a stand to hold the witch up. The weights given below make enough dough for this biscuit scene plus enough extra that if you break a piece you can make another, the dough can be frozen or you could make extra trees or animals once you have safely made your cottage. The royal icing is to join biscuits together, the water icing is for decoration. To make the window panes you will need a sugar thermometer.

Ingredients:

700g Plain flour

3 tsp bicarbonate of soda

3 tsp ground ginger

200g Butter

350g light muscavado sugar

8 tablespoons golden syrup (and a small dish of vegetable / corn oil to dip the spoon in)

2 eggs (beaten)

pre-heat the oven to 180c

To decorate:

Mini smarties

Water icing and gel colours (white, green, black)

100g castor sugar & 100ml water

Royal icing (1/2 of a 500g packet)

200g White chocolate

200g Milk chocolate

 

Method:

  • Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger into a bowl.
  • Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Sieve in the sugar to remove any lumps then stir in.
  • Dip your tablespoon in the oil to stop the golden syrup sticking then add the golden syrup to the egg and beat to combine.
  • Gradually stir the syrup mixture into the dry ingredients.
  • Mix into a smooth dough.
  • Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and roll out.
  • Cut out your biscuits and place on buttered baking trays. The template I used for the house is from BBC Goof Food and can be found here (you will need to print out 2 copies in order to cut out all the pieces).
  • Use small heart or circle cutters to add windows and a knife to add a door.
  • Bake at 180c and trim the edges with a sharp knife imediately the pieces come out of the oven while they are still soft. Use the templates again to ensure the correct size but do be careful as the biscuits will be hot.
  • Cooking times may vary for different ovens but I  found the following times worked.
    Trees and figures =8 – 10 minutes (remember to puch the lollipop stick into the witch biscuit as soon as it comes out of the oven).
    Side of house = 14 minutes   *trim edges
    Gable ends of house = 16 minutes
    Roof of house = 18 minutes
  • Cool on wire racks before decorating.

Decoration:

  • Hansel and Gretel collageFirst make the window panes for the house -
    Place the castor sugar and water in a pan and heat to 150c using a sugar thermometer then pour window panes onto a foil covered baking tray (I needed 4)
  • Mix the royal icing then once the window panes have set attach them to the back of the gable ends using the royal icing.
  • While the window panes set in place temper the white and milk chocolate and pipe onto greaseproof paper to make the roof tiles.
  • Once the window panes have set in place assemble the cottage using the royal icing. Place the gable ends between the outer walls so that a ledge is created to rest the roof on while it sets. Only attach the roof once the walls have begun to set.
  • While the house sets decorate the trees, witch and children.
  • Attach the roof tiles in alternating layers with royal icing.
  • Add detail to the cottage with water icing.
  • Finally add mini smarties around the window and door frames.
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August’s Celebration Cakes And Bakes with July’s Roundup

frozen cake 3The summer holidays are here and they’re the last ones before my son starts school. He turns 5 in September and has asked for a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cake and party. I’m busy scouring Pintrest for ideas as I don’t want him to feel he gets any less fuss than his sister had for her Frozen Party. My daughter’s 2 part Frozen themed cake made up the first two entries in July’s Celebration Cakes and Bakes. She had a vanilla Ice palace cake and a chocolate In Summer cake.

frozen cake 4

The next entry was a birthday cake that looks exactly like the cake from Minecraft made by Jo of Opposable thumbs. If you haven’t heard of it Minecraft is a sandbox game where you can build thing with different types of blocks. Older children / adults can fight off monsters, or for younger children you can have a peaceful existence with no scary things going bump in the night.

Next was a gorgeously rich looking chocolate birthday cake from the Chocolate log blog topped with lemon curd and strawberries.

Finally we have a stunning heart patterned swiss roll made by Winnie from Something Sweet. I think this would have been worthy of appering on The Great British Bake Off it looks so pretty.

If you have a bake you’re particularly proud of why not join in with the link below, the rules are simple:

You must have made the bake yourself – no buying from the local cake shop.

It must be a post about making the bake – it doesn’t have to be a full on recipe but it does need to be in the spirit of the thing.

It doesn’t need to be a new post it could be one from last year, but if it’s a seasonal celebration bake it should be appropriate – so no Easter cakes at Christmas, save them for springtime.

Posts must include the Celebration Cakes & Bakes badge (grab the code below)

Please comment on a few of the other entries – remember linkys only work if you spread the linky love!

That’s it everything else is optional.

If you follow me on twitter @jaisee_mummy and tweet me with the hashtag #CelebrationCakesAndBakes I will retweet any entries that I see.

Because this month I’m late posting the linky will run until August 31st.

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Chocolate and vanilla swiss roll

Chocolate and vanilla swiss rollSo the Great British Bake Off is back for another year and last night saw the bakers challenged with cakes. Swiss rolls, cherry cake and miniature British classics. In celebration of the bake off the Great Blogger’s Bake Off is also starting up again and my first recipe for it is this chocolate and vanilla version of a swiss roll adapted from a Mary Berry recipe in the book she signed for me last year. It’s partly inspired by those cadbury mini-rolls that have been around forever. I remember them from years ago and always liked them although I couldn’t tell you when I last had one. This is my attempt to make a giant one.

The sponge is striped chocolate and vanilla, and the filling is striped milk and white chocolate ganache. Finally the whole cake is covered in dark chocolate and white chocolate stars.

Ingredients

For the cake:

100g Castor sugar

4 Large eggs (beaten)

1 tsp Vanilla essence

100g Self raising flour

25g Cocoa powder

For the filling:

100g White chocolate

100g Milk Chocolate

50ml Double cream

200g Dark chocolate

White chocolate stars or similar to decorate

Method

  • Preheat your oven to 220c
  • In a free standing mixer whisk the sugar, eggs and vanilla essence using a balloon whisk attachment. Whisk until the mixture is stiff enough to leave soft peaks when the whisk lifts out.
  • Sift in the flour a little at a time, folding gently by hand to keep the air in the mixture.
  • Split the mixture in half and sift the cocoa powder into one half, folding as with the flour.
  • You should now have a vanilla mix and a chocolate mix.
  • Grease and line a baking tray with a raised edge with greaseproof paper, then grease the paper itself to stop it from sticking.
  • Place your two mixtures into jugs and pour stripes of the mixture into the tray.
  • Use a skewer to drag across the stripes and produce an attractive pattern as below.
    Chocolate and vanilla swiss roll batter 2
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 8 minutes. The sponge should be firm but only lightly coloured.
  • Once the cake is cooked score a line about 1cm from the end and roll up the sponge while it is hot. This will help it to roll later once it is cooled and filled.
  • While the cake is cooling melt the white and milk chocolate in separate bowls.
  • Add 25ml of double cream to the white and stir until the mixture thickens. Repeat this for the milk chocolate.
  • Pipe alternating lines of white and milk chocolate ganache onto the cooled cake then re-roll it and wrap firmly in several layers of cling film to help it settle into shape. The ganche will set and help hold the shape once the clingfilm is removed. Leave for at least an hour.
  • After at least an hour melt the dark chocolate and cut the clingfilm off the cake.
  • Pour the melted chocolate over the the cake and use a silicone pastry brush to help coat the cake with the chocolate.
  • Sprinkle the cake with the chocolate stars and leave to set – if the weather is particularly warm you may need to place the cake in the fridge. Only do this if really necessary as setting chocolate in a fridge can cause it to “bloom” and show whitish marks.
    GreatBloggersBakeOff
  • Thanks to Jenny Paulin for hosting the great bloggers bake off!

 

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Rainbow cookies

rainbow cookies 4These soft chewy cookies are a firm favourite in our house, so much so that a batch of 60 small cookies is unlikely to last the week. I recently shared a random photo of a batch cooling on wire racks with Stork (@bakewithstork) on twitter as part of their #storkpassiton monthly draw. Last month the prize was a Kenwood stand mixer and amazingly I won it!! It arrived this week as is gorgeous so I thought I would share the recipe for my cookies. Why not have a go at making some then share a photo with them using the #storkpassiton hashtag and see if you’re lucky too.

Ingredients

225g Stork Margarine

200g Light muscavado sugar

150g Castor sugar

2 Large eggs (beaten)

1 tsp Vanilla extract

400g Plain flour

1/2 tsp Salt

2 and a half tsp Bicarbonate of soda

100g Dark chocolate chips / chopped chocolate

100g Smarties or other candy coated chocolate beans either full size or mini.

Method

  • Preheat the oven to 170c.
  • Cream the margarine and sugar in a freetsanding mixer.
  • Add the vanilla extract to the beaten eggs then add little by little to the buttercream mixture.1
  • In a separate bowl mix together the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda.
  • Gradually add the dry ingredients while mixing on a slow speed.
  • Stir in the chocolate chips and smarties.
  • Grease 2 – 4 baking trays (depending on how many shelves you have in your oven) and place small balls of the biscuit mixture on the trays – I tend to fit 9 to 12 balls per tray depending on the shape.
    Rainbow cookie collage
  • Bake for 8 – 10 minutes, the cookies will spread while they bake and should still be chewy once they have cooled.

rainbow cookies 5

 

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A weekend at Thomas Land and Drayton Manor

frozen cupcakes 1So in the last month there have one or two mentions of my daughter’s birthday party but I haven’t had chance to share what we got up to as a family to spoil her rotten. There was a birthday with presents, cupcakes (of course) and a trip to a local farm where you can meet the animals, and there was the weekend before where we went away as a family and stayed in a hotel with the kids for the very first time.

Of course we’ve been away before but it’s always been self catering – this was the first time that we’ve been brave enough to go somewhere without a kitchen and a separate bedroom for the munchkins. We decided to go to Thomas Land as we went last year for a special showing of the King Of The railway Thomas film and the kids loved it. Thomas Land is part of the Drayton Manor theme park in Tamworth Staffordshire and has a lovely hotel right opposite the entrance. The Drayton Manor hotel has lots of Thomas the Tank Engine themed areas including figures as you walk into the foyer and engines on the walls of the landing areas. You can stay in standard family rooms or upgrade to themed Thomas the Tank engine rooms for that extra special experience. When we visited they had entertainers for the kids in the evenings on Saturday and Sunday and over the summer holidays they will have nightly entertainment. A play area with swings and other wood built equipment is available and our kids had a great time playing each night.Drayton manor Collage2#

If you’re looking for a short break with your family I would highly recommend a weekend spent here. we travelled down on the Friday, stayed overnight and went into the park all day Saturday. We chose to stay an extra night and travel home on the Sunday morning meaning we got home in time for lunch with no rushing and no overtired kiddies. The whole experience in the hotel was great once we figured out that we had to scan our room keys to make the lifts work. Breakfast was a buffet style which was great fr the kids and during dinner there were train tables for the kids to play with (just remember to bring your own engines).

The park itself is great for both young and older children, our 3 and 4 year old loved the big wheel, the trains and the helicopter ride. When they’re older I’m sure they will love the roller coasters and the giant log flume, although I May be sending them on those with their dad!!

Drayton Manor Collage 4

We received a discounted room rate in return for reviewing our experience however all opinions are our own.

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July’s Celebration Cakes And Bakes

frozen cake 3Thanks for stopping by and welcome to July’s Celebration Cakes And Bakes Linky. This is where I ask you to link up posts about any special cakes you’ve made and want to share. For me last month was all about my daughter’s 3rd birthday – she wanted a frozen party and I was making everything from Ice And Snow Jelly Shots to Snowflake Cookie Trees but my main achievement was succeeding in making a Frozen Ice Palace and In Summer cake for my demanding little angel.

A vanilla multicoloured sponge for the Ice Palace and a rich chocolate cake for the In Summer section – my little girl was so so happy with her “Anna Cake”.

But back to the Linky, It’s about cakes that you’re proud of and want to share.

If you’re inspired by these lovely cakes why not link up your own creation below?

The rules:

You must have made the bake yourself – no buying from the local cake shop.

It must be a post about making the bake – it doesn’t have to be a full on recipe but it does need to be in the spirit of the thing.

It doesn’t need to be a new post it could be one from last year, but if it’s a seasonal celebration bake it should be appropriate – so no Easter cakes at Christmas, save them for springtime.

Posts must include the Celebration Cakes & Bakes badge (grab the code below)

Please comment on a few of the other entries – remember linkys only work if you spread the linky love!

That’s it everything else is optional.

If you follow me on twitter @jaisee_mummy and tweet me with the hashtag #CelebrationCakesAndBakes I will retweet any entries that I see.

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June’s Celebration Cakes and Bakes roundup

Last month was a lovely month for Celebration Cakes and bakes with wonderful summery cakes linked up. My absolute favourite was the Sandcastle Cake made by Kirsty from Hijacked By Twins, it looked like it would be right at home on a beach and even had edible flags on top!

The first cake I added last month was a Ruby Anniversary cake made for my parents. A vanilla sponge with covered in fondant and decorated with spun sugar.

Ruby anniversary cake

Next comes a wonderfully colourful Rainbow Cake made by Becky at The Laughing Owls, For a first time rainbow cake I think it is fab and I’m sure her two year old was delighted to have it as a birthday cake.

The next cake is inspired by one of my favourite ever desserts, Eton Mess. An Eton Mess Chocolate Cake from Chocolate Log blog for her friend’s birthday – This kind of cake just says summer-time to me and looks so simple and delicious.

Another gorgeous summery cake was added by Ros from The More Than Occaisional Baker. A White Chocolate and Cardamom Cake topped with beautiful seasonal strawberries.

Finally we have a birthday cake with a difference – because it was made for a stuffed animal! My decided it was Simba from the Lion King’s birthday so of course we had to make him a carrot cake birthday cake – we even sang happy birthday and blew out the candles! Here is Simba’s Birthday Cake.

Simba cakeIf you’ve made a cake you’re particularly proud of why not link up to July’s Celebration Cakes and Bakes?

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Mint Chocolate Chip Muffins

mint choc chip cakes 3This week the unthinkable happened and we ran out of cake and biscuits! My son got sent to preschool with dried fruit for his pudding yesterday and was not impressed, so while the kids were eating tea I quickly whipped up some yummy mint chocolate chip muffins for them.  (makes 10 large cupcakes / muffins)

Ingredients:

125g Unsalted butter (softened)

125g Castor sugar

2 Large eggs (beaten)

2 tsp Peppermint extract

110g Self raising flour

15g Good quality cocoa powder

A few tablespoons of whole milk

50g Dark Chocolate roughly chopped

50g White chocolate chips / white chocolate roughly chopped

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 c
  • Set out 10 muffin cases in Muffin trays
  • In a free standing mixer cream the softened butter an sugar
  • In a separate bowl stir together the flour and cocoa powder
  • Add the mint extract to the beaten eggs and gradually add the eggs to the butter cream with  spoonful of flour to stabilize the mix.
  • Gradually fold in the rest of the flour
  • Add milk slowly until the mixture falls easily from a spoon / spatula
  • Stir in the dark and white chocolate chips.
  • Spoon the mixture into the 10 prepared muffin cases
  • Bake in the preheated 180c oven for approximately 15 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean (apart from any melted chocolate it catches).

mint choc chip cakes 2

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Frozen themed Birthday Cakes – In Summer

frozen cake 4Last week I wrote a post about the Ice Palace part of my daughter’s Frozen birthday cake. The second part of her “Anna cake” was the scene from Olaf’s song In Summer where they are having a picnic on the grass. The Ice Palace cake was vanilla so of course this one had to be chocolate.

The recipe is my standard chocolate cake – I doubled the amounts to feed the hoards of party guests and used 2 x 9 inch tins. I used plain vanilla frosting between the layers and then coloured a batch of vanilla frosting green to cover the cake. First I covered the whole cake in a thin layer of the frosting before using a grass effect piping nozzle to make the grass on top of the cake. Grass_nozzle.jpg

The picnic blanket is made from flower paste :

Colour some flower paste red then roll out and cut into strips.

Roll out white flower paste to a size larger than the blanket you want to create.

Colour some flower paste red then roll out and cut into strips.

You may also like: Frozen themed Ice and snow jelly shots

You may also like: Frozen themed Ice and snow jelly shots

Lay the strips over the rolled out white flower paste and use a rolling pin to embed the red into the white.

Use a pizza wheel to cut the shape of the blanket.

I used plunger cutters to make sugar paste daisys for the top of the cake with sugar pearls in the centre for pollen. – make a dimple in the middle of the flower with the end of a paint brusha nd use edible glue to secure the sugar pearl.

I made more flowers from coloured fondant and added them to the sides of the cake. I also made a sugar paste Olaf and a sugar paste Anna for the top of the cake.

frozen cake 3

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Frozen themed Birthday Cakes – Elsa’s Ice Palace

frozen cake 3For the last 4 months my daughter has been asking for an Anna cake for her birthday. Princess Anna from Disney’s Frozen has been her absolute favourite since she first saw the film. As time went on the cake request (bear in mind that she was 2 about to be 3) developed into an Anna cake “and her sister”. I spent quite a while thinking about how I wanted to make a cake with the characters on it and decided I’d like to have Elsa on the balcony from the song Let it Go in the Ice Palace and Anna sitting on the grass with Olaf as she does in the song In Summer. This fitted in with our whole Frozen In Summer party theme. I made the figurines out of flower paste coloured with gel colours and supported by flower wire. I would have liked to cheat and buy the frozen figure set from the Disney Store but they were always out of stock so I had to be creative.

Ice Palace Cakefrozen cake 6

Looking at a close up picture of the Ice Palace cake you can see there is a carved cake on a 14 inch cake drum covered in white fondant. Behind the cake is a palace shaped piece of mint flavoured candy and mint flavoured spun sugar icicles add to the palace effect. Surrounding the edge of the board is the balcony railing made from hand cut sugar paste. A hand made sugar paste Elsa stands at the front as she does during Let It Go. The inside of the cake is layers of vanilla sponge coloured in icy shades of white blue and purple.

 

Frozen cake 7For the cake:

3 x  6 inch round tins buttered and lined (or 1 tin used 3 times).
Blue and purple gel colours (liquid would work also)
375g Castor sugar
375g Unsalted butter (softened)
375g Self raising flour
6 Large Eggs (beaten)
4 tsp Vanilla extract

Approx 50ml whole milk

  • Preheat the oven to 180c.
  • Butter 3 6in cake tins and line them with greaseproof paper.
  • In a freestanding mixer cream the softened butter and sugar.
  • Add the vanilla essence to the beaten eggs.
  • Add the egg mixture to the butter and sugar while mixing on a low speed.
  • slowly add the flour.
  • Add milk until the mixture drops easily off a spoon.
  • Split the mixture equally between 3 bowls, and colour one 1/3 blue, 1/3 purple and leave the other plain.
  • Place in the previously lined cake tins and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
    If you only have one 6inch tin (like me) bake the first 1/3, reline the tin with fresh greaseproof paper once the first cake is turned out and repeat for the other 2/3 of the mixture.
  • Leave the cakes to completely cool on wire racks.

To make the ice palaceFrozen cake collage

You will need:

14 inch cake drum

12 inch cake drum

blue ribbon

Vanilla frosting

White ready to roll fondant

White flower paste

Flower wire

3 or 4 sheets of a4 card and sticky tape

Make a batch of Vanilla Frosting and use it between the cakes to stack them. together. Use a sharp knife to carefully cut a flat edge at the front of the cake. Use the pieces from this to increase the height of the cake joining with frosting, then shape it into a point.
Carefully carve out the shape of the doorway and surround. The pieces from this can also be used to shape the top of the cake.
Cover the cake in light blue coloured fondant and spray with a pearlescent edible lustre.
Cover a 14 inch cake drum with white fondant, and add a blue ribbon around the edge before placing the cake towards the back of the board.

Either buy an Elsa figurine or you could twist a framework of wire with a blob of paste at the base to stablise it, roll out blue coloured flower paste and wrap around to form a skirt, then add skin coloured flower paste wrapped around the top section and shaped into a torso and head. Plait some yellow flower paste for Elsa’s hair, add edible glitter to the dress and finally make the facial details.

To make the balcony use a non stick mat to roll out a strip of flower paste long enough to go around the edge of a 12 inch board (honestly I do mean 12 inch).

Use modeling tools or the point of a sharp knife to cut out the overlapping YY pattern from the blacony. Cut and stick the card to form 2 long strips which can sandwich the cut out balcony. Use additional strips of card to stop the balcony falling out of the bottom of the sandwiched card. Finally securely tape the balcony around the 12inch cake drum and leave overnight to allow the flower paste to harden. when removing the card be very careful not to let the card spring away from the cake drum as this would crack the now hardened flower paste.

place the balcony on the 14inch cake drum with the Ice palace and add elsa for a finishing touch.

 

For the Sugar palace shape

375g Castor sugar

335g Water

Blue food colouring

Mint flavour

Jam / sugar thermometer

Foil covered baking sheet and extra foil to make the palace shape.

Sticky tape

A quick note – adding the mint flavour affected the clarity of the sugar – for a see through effect leave out the flavouring.

  • Before starting to make the sugar cover a baking sheet with foil.
  • Use more foil and fold into a long strip
  • Use sticky tape on the outside of the shape to attach the strip of foil to the foil covered tray in the shape of the palace. Make sure to seal all the edges so the molten sugar doesn’t seep out underneath.

Frozen Sugar Palace Collage

  • Fill a bowl large enough to place your pan in with cold water and place to the side.
  • Add a few drops of food colour and flavour to the water until you are happy with the shade.
  • Dissolve the castor sugar in the water and heat in a pan. Do not stir as this will crystallise the sugar.
  • Heat the sugar until it reaches 155c (the hard crack point) then immediately move the pan to the bowl of cold water for a few seconds to stop the sugar cooking any further. Make sure not to get any water in the pan, and dry off the bottom so no drips go on the foil when pouring.
  • Pour the molten sugar into the castle template. Please be careful as the sugar will be very hot.
  • Use any extra sugar to pull out icicles to add to the top of the palace cake.
  • To remove any set sugar from the pan fill with water and boil for 5 min then pour away.
  • leave to cool then remove from the foil.
  • Stand behind the ice palace and attach to the board with either fondant or some extra molten sugar – I used some left over sugar which I remelted with a cooks blow torch that I normally use for creme brulee.

 

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